A police department from Guangdong province in South China has just announced the discovery and breaking of a large football gambling syndicate. The reports claim that the illegal gambling operation was $1.5 billion large, and focused on using Bitcoin (BTC), the number one cryptocurrency to date.
Crypto gambling campaign busted
According to reports released by Xinhua, a local news outlet, China’s police department from Guangdong arrested around 540 individuals connected to a large illegal football gambling operation. Additionally, the law enforcers froze over 5 million yuan-worth of assets and even confiscated more than 10 million yuan in cryptos.
The illegal gambling operation involved up to 20 gangs that managed to recruit around 330,000 members in only eight months. Additionally, they used 70 apps and websites, and more than 250 chat groups to conduct their operations and announce promotions. The most recent activity prior to the arrests focused on football matches of this year’s World Cup.
Gamblers went for cryptos to avoid regulations and detection
China is not exactly looking lightly on gambling, and most forms of this activity are illegal. There are a few officially managed gambling games that are run for charity that the country allows, but apart from that, it is not legal to gamble in China. Despite this, as well as the fact that China is not even qualified for the World Cup, the interest in football is still high in the country.
A situation like that has led to the creation of large underground gambling networks. Not only that, but these networks were also found to be connected to many match-fixing incidents all around the world. Obviously, China’s citizens, as well as criminals, are taking betting on sports pretty seriously.
Considering that it is illegal, they had no alternative but to turn to cryptocurrencies, due to their anonymity and inability to be tracked. In Guangdong operation, the police confirmed that the online gambling platform operated by the syndicate has been accepting Bitcoin. They first noticed this back in May, which is what caused an investigation to be launched. Apart from Bitcoin, the platform also accepted Litecoin and Ethereum and was linked to gambling operations all around the world.
The whole thing was, of course, a pyramid scheme, and the syndicate used various agents that were to bring new members to the platform. For this, the agents were paid in cryptocurrencies. The investigation had uncovered that over 330,000 people have been brought to the platform by this method in an eight-month period.
The operation used offshore servers, and turning to cryptos was seen as the best way for the operations to remain under the radar, and avoid regulations. However, their promotions on a large number of websites and chat groups still got detected, which led to the investigation, and eventually, arrests of all China-based participants.